September 15th, 14 miles.
Today we woke up, filled up on breakfast, checked out of the motel and bussed to Lake of the Sky Outfitters to get some last minute stuff.
We hung out for a while and then went outside to get a hitch. Our hitch situation wasn’t looking good, but luckily a women saw us and offered to drive us, saving us some trouble! She was very sweet and super outdoorsy so we had lots to talk about.
We got back to the highway trailhead and got to hiking. This next section is a 6 day carry, and since we all ran out of food last time, we made sure to pack lots. We are also carrying the bear canisters which added extra weight. All of our packs are HUGE and sooooo heavy! We weren’t going too fast that’s for sure.
We had a super steep incline to start and the trail was kicking our butts. We could all feel the impact of the extra weight. Our pace was about 2.5 miles an hour and we were taking more frequent breaks.
We got to camp just before the trailhead at Highway 88 and threw our packs off right away. Colonel couldn’t find his new stove and was thinking he might of forgot it at the outfitters. He was super bummed about it but is going to hitch into town tomorrow morning and try and meet back up with us. Hopefully it’s there!
We also noticed how much earlier it’s getting darker too. Might have to start waking up earlier. Lots of new changes for this section!!
September 16th, 23 miles.
Last night was definitely a colder night, we all woke up chilly. Gunna have to get used to it with this higher elevation in the Sierra. Colonel went to hitch and the other three of us started our day. I really hope he catches back up with us!
It’s been a real struggle with these packs. We stopped almost every 3 miles for a quick break to relieve our bodies. Our pace was so much slower.
I was moving faster than the others this morning. We had some pretty big climbs. Once I got to the top of the big climb, I saw Mr. Z there having a snack. It was a pretty awesome view so I stopped to enjoy it, followed shortly by the others.
We all hiked together for the rest of the day. It went by slow. My pack has really been bugging me because it’s too big and now with the extra weight it’s become a problem. By the end of the day my feet were really starting to hurt. Between the steep climbs, elevation gains and heavy packs, there is a lot more impact on your body and it’s definitely noticeable. Will just take some time to get used to.
We were supposed to hike 4 more miles today but Toto’s ankles are really bothering him, which is concerning. We made camp a bit early and wrote a note for Colonel and left it on trail so he doesn’t miss us. We made a fire and went to bet shortly after.
Today was definitely a slow one and had some of us feeling down, but it’s only the first day of this section and we’re still getting used to things. Gotta stay positive!
September 17, 25 miles.
Another cold morning! We woke up to see Colonel camped with us which was awesome! He found his stove AND got Toto an ankle brace which seemed to help his ankles incredibly! What a relief.
Today was another tough day with lots of climbs. We hiked close together and told each other stories and asked each other questions like usual. Mr. Z caught up with us later in the morning too.
We were taking a bit longer breaks today. We stopped for a shorter lunch and then kept going. After lunch I was feeling really sick and nauseous. We had a big climb too so that didn’t help.
We still had about 6 miles to camp and it was getting late, so we decided to eat early and continue hiking. The awesome thing was that I ran into Nuthatch and Ben, two hikers I had saw in Washington several times at the start! I was so excited! They decided to flip flop because they had to get off trail and knew they wouldn’t make it into the Sierras in time. It was so nice to catch up with them!
We continued hiking and Goutcha and Colonel both started feeling nauseous too. We were thinking it is either food or the altitude, maybe both. We stopped at a site 2.8 miles before we were gunna camp and decided to stay there instead. It was already dark anyways and we’d be hiking for another hour, plus we didn’t want to push our limits with everyone not feeling great.
It’s the second night we cut our miles short but it’s been okay. We are still getting used to everything so we are taking it as it comes!
September 18th, 22 miles
Today I was feeling a little nauseous. I wasn’t sure if it was from the elevation or what. This morning was gorgeous though as we walked through some beautiful forest. We had lunch at a really nice camp spot by Carson River. It would have been the perfect place to camp, but we were lucky enough to each lunch here.
Getting up Sonora Pass was a bit of a struggle. Toto’s shin splits were still bugging him so we both trailed behind for the most part. We finally got to the top of Sonora Pass which was a pretty big deal for us. This was the Sierra!
We stopped at the top to have a snack and enjoyed the view! We continued hiking and made our way to the trailhead at Hwy 108. We had the option to go to Kennedy Meadows North but didn’t need to. We hung out at the trailhead for a bit and got to talking to the Christian Motorcycle Club who was having a big barbecue. Mr. Z caught up with us shortly after. The Motorcycle Club shared their leftovers with us which was super sweet and we ended up hanging out here alot long than we had expected.
We finally decided to hike out. There was a lot of uphill ridge walk but the scenery was very different so it didn’t seem so bad.
The sun started to set and the sky lit up pink and it was absolutely beautiful. This was when it really hit me that we were in the Sierra! The rest of our hike today would include looooooooong downhill switchbacks, which was the perfect way to enjoy the sunset. The switchback were so long but it was really cool to see how they cut down the mountain and into the valley.
Me and Colonel chatted for the most part, finally getting into camp. Tomorrow we would be entering Yosemite National Park so I was super stoked for the day to come. Yosemite was one of biggest reasons which sparked my interest to hike the PCT! Ahhhhh!
September 19th, 16 miles.
Today was such an awesome day! We met Checkerboard Red, another thru hiker, but he passed us quickly. We also hit a pretty big milestone (quite literally!!!!) as we hit the 1000 mile mark!! Ahhhhhhhhhhh!
We entered Yosemite and the scenery kind of drastically changed. How gorgeous was it! And such a beautiful sunny say it was. We got to Dorothy Lake and knew we HAD to stop to lunch here. Mr. Z was with us and we all went in for a swim. We ate lunch, laid in the sun, and ended up having a long nap (oops!)… no regrets though.
We mainly hiked solo for the rest of the day. I kind of got in some bad headspace and was having a bad mental day. It was such a beautiful day and we were hiking through some beautiful rocky, forest so I didn’t want it to effect me, but it was. Gaucha caught up to me and we hiked together and talked alot which helped take my mind off things. We finally got to camp and I told the others what was up. I felt like it was best to be honest with everyone and they really appreciated me saying that.
We camped at Stubblefield Canyon which was a super nice open area right by a creek. Gaucha made her first fire on trail and we all enjoyed a lot of rest time as we ate dinner and watched it turn dark. We all shared a Backpackers Pantry dessert which was actually declines. Turned out to be such a good night.
There are inevitably going to be bad mental days on trail. You just have to tell yourself its only one day and that tomorrow will be better… because it will!
September 20th, 21 miles.
Everyday in the Sierra you are introduced to bigger, more beautiful scenery. Mr. Z was still hiking with us and in the morning we conquered Seavey Pass (el. 10,106′) and Benson Pass (el. 9128′)-two of the smaller passes in the Sierra. We hit some absolutely gorgeous scenery.
Everything in the Sierra was so grand!
Later in the afternoon we met a section hiker named Katie who had already set up camp even though it was super early. We convinced her to pack up and hike on with us! I struggled on the uphills for the rest of the day. We all hiked as a group and carried on with lots of conversation, getting to know Katie.
We saw the most unbelievable sunset and all stopped to take it in and snap a few photos. So incredible, it didn’t even look real!
It started getting dark and we needed to find a place to camp. We just got down to the meadow near Matterhorn Creek and found a spot that was semi-sheltered to camp. We all set up and enjoyed another night around the fire.
September 21st, 19 miles.
We woke up today and the whether wasn’t looking too great. It held off all morning but soon enough it started to rain, so we geared up. Me, Katie, and Gaucha hiked together for most of the morning which was nice. Our girl to boy ratio was 3:3 which was pretty rare! Female company was awesome to have, especially since the male demographic was much higher on trial.
It rained quite a bit today which kind of sucked, but I didn’t mind too much. We were hiking on the John Muir Trail and it was absolutely stunning! I wish it hadn’t been raining so I could have got some pictures, because today was gorgeous. So many colours-strong greens and so many lovely red wildflowers. We passed a few day hikers even though the whether was shitty.
I was on a bit of a roll today and me and Katie got a bit ahead of the others. We couldn’t wait to get to Tuolumne Meadows for warm food! We passed Tuolumne Falls which was amazing! It was a shame it was cold out and we couldn’t go swimming in it. It would have been a perfect lunch spot.
We finally got to Tuolumne Meadows and I headed straight to the Post Office to see if my sleeping pad was there. IT WAS!!!! FINALLY!!!!!! I was SO excited to finally have something between me and the ground, especially in the Sierra where the whether was going to be much cooler. Wooooo! Maybe the first time USPS hasn’t let me down! I then headed to the burger place and ordered a meal. I saw down and Colonel joined, followed by the others. I ended up eating two burgers because they were SO good and I was so hungry.
While me and Colonel were in line to eat, we started talking to a lovely lady named Judie and her husband Frank. They didn’t know much about the PCT or thru hiking, but Judie gave us her number and told us to give her a call when we get to White Pass. They lived in Ridgecrest, the nearest town by that part of the trail. She said we were welcome to stay, clean up and get a warm meal with her! Awesome!
Katie parted ways with us along with Mr. Z, as he was going down to Yosemite Valley so we could do the entire John Muir trail. I had originally wanted to go down to the valley but didn’t for a few reasons. 1. I didn’t want to separate from the group, 2. The whether wasn’t pleasant anyways, 3. I knew I’d be back to Yosemite and the valley itself can be a whole other trip and 4. It was starting to get time to push through the Sierra… the whether was already starting to turn so waiting any longer might be dangerous.
We hung out for while trying to wait out the rain but it looked like it just wasn’t going to stop. We all talked and decided it might be best to stay in town for the night. None of us wanted to hike in the rain and since our stuff was already wet, camping in Tuolumne wouldn’t do much for us.
We tried hitching into Lee Vining which ended up being a bit of a challenge. We thought the sight of drenched backpackers might get us a hitch easier, but apparently not. We started asking people in the parking lot of Tuolumne. We found a car that could fit two of us, so me and Gaucha got in just as the guys were getting a hitch.
We got into Lee Vining and me and Gaucha started calling motels but EVERYTHING was booked. We didn’t know what to do, when all of the sudden a passerbyer asked us if we needed a place to stay. Her and her boyfriend had rented a cabin with two extra rooms. She thought it was silly to let them go to waste so she welcomed us to stay with them. Amazing!!!
Once the guys got there we went grocery shopping and made Julie and her boyfriend dinner as a thank you. After dinner we played some cards and then went to sleep.They were heading to the valley the next day so offered to drive us early back to trail, which worked out perfect!